Graphic Design ~ Illustration

Welcome to Bella Blue Designs Graphic Design Services.

After 20+ years in the San Francisco Bay Area, we've resettled in the forests of Washington near beautiful Mt. Baker. In addition to our new online store, I also offer graphic design and custom illustration services.

Click the links below if you'd like to take a look at my portfolio.  I'm interested in freelance projects and possibilities for collaboration with just the right people! Please contact me if you think I might be a good fit for your project.

Jocelyn Suzanne Hoey

design Portfolio  GO TO ART SHOP 

My introduction to digital art

I got my first Mac and Fractal Designs Painter program around 1992. That early digital art program came in an actually paint can! I got a Wacom pen and tablet and even though I was skeptical at first I was told it would be the 'way of the future'. So I gave it a try and I was hooked. I was already drawing with pen and ink and I found so much satisfaction taking my art into the digital realm to achieve the smooth lines, bright colors and crisp designs I had only been able to imagine before.

We had a MacIICI and that early color mac with the paint can filled with floppy discs changed my life. I know I was not alone. Around the country artists were discovering this amazing new art tool - the computer. Here's a fun article from the New York Times in 1992:

"Of course, one can use either Painter or Sketcher to create images and art from scratch, without starting with a scanned image. On that level alone, Painter ($399 Windows, $349 Mac) and Sketcher ($149 for either version) are superior to other paint programs I've used. The key is the so-called natural-medium nature of the programs, which means, basically, that it is possible to create on the computer screen virtually the same effects achieved by using conventional artist's tools."

I loved drawing but I never considered working as an artist. Art seemed an impractical "career" path. I had taken design classes in high school, and even "high school summer classes" nearby at Art Center School of Design in Pasadena. When I found out I could make graphics on the computer and it was really fun to do, I was ready. I got a job making ads on the swing shift at the local newspaper. It was great - seeing the digital art come out on the newsprint.

I loved the press, I dug the whole 'vibe'. We made the ads using a program called Multi Ad Creator and I grew comfortable with the idea of working as an artist as a way to make my living.

My friend Adobe

I moved to the Bay Area and I got a small contract job illustrating for a video game company using a program called DPaint which essentially filled rasterized art with rotating gradients. It was really cool to see my art move! ( 

Screen printing came next. I learned the art of 4 color printing and was introduced to Adobe. It was 1996 and we used Illustrator and Photoshop to design art for a large, busy fastpaced screen printing shop in San Jose. The Adobe building was just down the road. The area was booming. We were printing shirts for every up and coming hot new Silicon Valley company in town, and for every cool event that was happening. We worked with licensed images, sports teams, characters, and I was redrafting cool artwork, creating new artwork, learning fast production and honing my skills.

I learned about 4-color separation, spot color printing, and by watching the presses I learned how the dot gain and ink would spread, adjusting the artwork if needed. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop became a daily part of my life, and still are, 20+ years later.

After a few years in the screen printing art department, I took a leap and went to work at an ad agency as a production artist and design assistant. I learned to take my skills from fabric to glossy ads and high-end brochures, mostly printed pieces for some very top notch clients.

Working at that particular ad agency was a fantastic experience, leaving an impression on me of how a company can encourage and promote teamwork by sharing knowledge, encouraging growth and promoting creativity in a well thought-out environment.

The agency set a standard for me in quality. The senior designer's excitement and willingness to share with me new methods and tricks in Photoshop or Illustrator was priceless. I was sent to Adobe classes to learn advanced skills. I was responsible for pre-flighting and press checks, I managed our own office printers. Eventually the business owner retired and I had to move on.

what is this you ask me to do?

Around this time I was handed Macromedia Fireworks by an art director and asked to "figure out how to make websites and banner ads for the internet". I was intrigued. Sure, why not! I had Illustrator and Photoshop fairly 'mastered' and Quark was a breeze. I was stoked to learn about these new programs that would make it easy for designers to work on websites.

Working with websites and online graphics became part of my reality, 300 dpi and 72 dpi became concepts that are now second nature. PDFs were more and more popular and making them available and easy for online viewing was more important. It was an exciting time to transition from print to web and back and forth seamlessly. We all are expected to do this now without thinking much of it, but it wasn't like that at first.

Teaching myself Dreamweaver was probably the most frustrating work challenge of the last 20 years. But once I took a step back and realized it was crazy to do that without learning at least a little html, it started to get easier. (I cared less about coding until that moment).

There was confusion in the air during that time for production artists and print designers. I doubt I'm the only one who felt it! These new visual designer web programs weren't as user friendly as I think we had hoped. It took some adjusting. This technology has come such a long way as we see now with 'easy to build websites' anyone can use. ;-)

I spent the next few years focusing on not being "away from home 10 hours a day" so I could be around my child and I worked on freelance projects. I spent many late nights working on my Mac. I taught myself how to make a shopping cart for a small local business with over 600 products. I taught myself whatever I needed to know to get any job done. I had to hire help for a few projects we were so busy. And I was always still illustrating, creating my own artwork using my Wacom pen and Adobe whenever I could find the free time.

Eventually I went back to work full time and became the Marketing Manager for a small commercial and residentail real estate company in Santa Cruz CA. It was a great way to take all my skills and put them to use, online marketing, email blasts, printed materials, and real estate ads for the newspaper....yup, connecting with the newspaper again. It was bound to happen. As I worked closely to submit our real estate ads over a few years I came around full circle and ended up back working at a newspaper - with the beloved printing press.

My love of print was fulfilled again. I was also making ads for the newspapers online advertising, so I kept up my web skills.

My amazing imac and how it survived

In time, our busy life in the SF Bay Area became unnecessary, my daughter had grown, I had married, we relocated to rural Lake County CA and I continued to do freelance projects. I took various jobs at the local hot springs retreat center and eventually ended up in the publications department as the graphic designer. The hot springs healing arts center is a work of beauty, truly incredible. I had a lovely office and the work was perfectly enjoyable. day a forest fire ripped over the mountain burning up our house, and then burning down into the valley, burning up the retreat center and on through the town and beyond.

Everything we owned was gone. Everything. Except my iMac which was at the Apple store for a "once in it's lifetime" repair as just the right time... the day the Valley Fire burned down our home! Bella Blue Designs files were saved. Much of my 20 years of digital art was spared. The backup drives at home had burned as had all my printed art and portfolio, but the computer was safe in the repair shop of the Apple store. (Absolutely - cloud backup!)

For about 6 months my husband and I lugged the giant imac around with us from one temporary home to another. It became an icon of sorts and still is.

In the years since the fire, I have continued to work as a contractor for Bay Area businesses primarily for Harbin Hot Springs / Heart Consciousness Church during their rebuilding process. For a while we stayed in Middletown CA and now, I work from our new lovely home in rainy Washington State. Harbin has reopened to guests and I am happy to be desiging for such an extremely special organization, although I am enjoying being away from the fire area.

And in the great Pacific Northwest

Moving to our new lovely location in Western Washington State has brought me a renewed inspiration to create my own illustrations. I've taken my original illustrations from 2019 and finaly have prints available to purchase!

I'm excited and hopeful that others will also want to enjoy the colorful designs I've created using Adobe Illustrator and the Wacom tablet. Although digital artwork may still feel 'different' to folks than traditional fine art, I hold myself to self-set standards when I illustrate, to keep the integrity and feel of traditional artwork.

For instance, patterns are all drawn without using copy or paste, I make a point to draw each leaf of a tree, or each berry, so every one has it's own personality. I limit the use of any pre-set patterns or tools that would make it feel, at least to me, that I'm 'cheating'. Having started illustrating with ink when I was a kid, I find that there are some digital tools I avoid, and some I embrace! I try to maintain 'if I couldn't draw that with an ink pen, then don't do it' in my digital art.

That keeps it a challenge. And keeps it original.

My career as a graphic designer and digital artist is a journey. I've had great teachers on the job along the way and still do. I continue to learn and challenge myself to stay current with technology.

From original illustration to social media management to web design, wordpress site maintenance or printed collateral, I am always interested in freelance projects and possibilities for collaboration with just the right people! Contact me if you think I might be a good fit for your project.

Click here to see my portfolio of some recent work.
Click here to see my resume.
Thank you for visiting Bella Blue Designs!

~ Jocelyn

design Portfolio  GO TO ART SHOP